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ITIL – Not a Cure for the Common Cold!

Shockingly, ITIL is not a cure for the common cold and suffers from being overprescribed by often well-intentioned but ill-advised ITIL enthusiasts.  Doing ITIL will not necessarily generate any benefits for your organization and can consume significant resources with little return on the investment.  Fortunately the diagnosis is not all bad though.  ITIL can be a powerful tool when coupled with a clear improvement purpose and plan.

As a matter of fact, ITIL was a significant influence in the success of several large IT transformation initiatives that I was involved with as a senior manager in the Ontario Government.  Over the next weeks and months, I will share some of the insights I gained as an IT practitioner using ITIL in the hopes that some part of my experiences may be useful to you on your continual service improvement journeys.

Let’s start at the beginning……

What were the business drivers for change & where did ITIL come in?

  • IT was being consolidated into one organizational unit to serve several different business areas across related Ministries (known as clustering)
  • There was a need to establish utility-like, common infrastructure that would be mature enough to underpin a large transformation business solution that was going to be used across the related Ministries.
  • Some of the key problem areas……

o Existing infrastructure was non-standard and delivered in silos
o Business solutions were channel dependent with stand alone functionality
o Limited funding to invest in infrastructure and no clear understanding of what current costs were and investment required to get to the required service levels
o Lots of confusion of roles and responsibilities across the service delivery chain

Technology Enabling BusinessIt was clear to everyone involved that there needed to be an immediate focus on standardizing the environment across the involved stakeholders and to understand the existing costs of service delivery.  Gartner’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was selected as a model to categorize, compile and analyze infrastructure delivery costs and possibly as a tool to prioritize infrastructure investments.  Additionally, ITIL was selected as a model that could help to characterize the types of processes and to define the maturity required to reach the desired service capabilities. Also of great interest was the non-proprietary nature of ITIL that would allow for third party vendors to align and integrate without having to deal with their unique proprietary models. An assessment of TCO for distributed computing and an ITIL maturity assessment were undertaken and a roadmap based on the business drivers developed.

What was the Service Improvement Roadmap & What Came First?

The table below provides a “picture” of the Service Management roadmap highlighting the key focus, business drivers, organization maturity and ITIL process maturity targets as the organization moved through its phased improvement.  (A very informative model is the “Organizational Maturity Model” which can be found in the ITIL V2 Planning to Implement Service Management book. The reference to Org Maturity is drawn from those definitions).

You get what we got

Service Desk was the face of the initial improvements. “You get what we got” characterized this phase as there were no significant investments or increase in resources identified.  The goal was to understand where the organization was at and to drive efficiencies within existing budgets/resources from streamlining and consolidation.

  • Step one was intended to focus on the structure of support, exposing the cost of infrastructure and quick win improvements in customer satisfaction through a single point of access to support services.
  • Step two of the Service Desk improvement was focused on driving down support costs, improving stability of existing services, improving resolution times across the delivery chain and understanding incident volumes to rationalize resources

Service-Level Management (SLM) then became the driving ITSM focus. “You get what you asked for” characterized this phase as the IT organization began to look at different service options and costs for different needs. The goal was to begin to discuss & agree to differentiated services with the customer and to manage the production environment to meet those commitments. Later stages of SLM were to focus on overall IT performance, extending TCO to entire business solutions and to measure performance from the customers perspective not service components.

  • Step Three attention was on ensuring that service cost from 3rd party vendors were justified and invoices provided adequate utilization information to inform further buy/use decisions (especially outsourced network services.  Focus also turned to assessing the business impact of proposed changes to protect production services and service-level commitments
  • Step Four was focused on measuring from the customer/consumer experience (citizen, business, government user).  The service continuity was also an important consideration as the technology began to underpin critical services.  The extension of TCO to solutions and not just infrastructure also was planned to ensure the costs/value propositions could be made in an informed and confident manner.

Value Management was the final frontier. “You get what you need” would characterize this phase as measurement would now begin to extend into the value derived from the business. The business would now see IT as a strategic partner who played a critical role in the achievement of business strategies.  Demonstration of the value of the IT investment would need to be available and used to inform further investments.

  • Step Five was planned to be all about benefits realization.  Activities to articulate the value proposition and to work in partnership with the business to monitor and achieve the intended benefits.  Activities would focus on mapping the benefits paths and managing a portfolio of projects and services to achieve the intended outcomes.  Investment and de-investment management services for the business would drive the strategic agenda.

Look for future blogs that will explore the different steps and offer details of how these steps took ITIL out of the books and into action.  Also learn what worked, what didn’t and any “golden nuggets” I found along the way………

What are the drivers for service management initiatives in your organization? Do you generally find that intended outcomes are clear and well communicated or are they vague and not well-linked to business drivers?

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Maria Ritchie Uncategorized , , , , ,

  1. Shelley Woods
    | #1

    Awesome work….this work was years ahead of its time

  2. | #2

    Cool,
    Very interesting site.
    That’s the most interesting info I have found about this.
    Thank you!

  1. | #1